After improving to 6-0 with a 52-14 victory over Texas State on Saturday, BYU moved up one spot each in both the Associated Press and Coaches Polls. The Cougars check in at No. 10 in the Coaches Poll and No. 11 in the AP Poll.
It’s the first time since 2009 that the Cougars have been ranked this high and just the fifth time in program history that the Cougars have started the season 6-0 (2008, 2001, 1984, 1979).
BYU’s dominance on both sides of the ball has caught the attention of many across the college football landscape. Many believe Zach Wilson be a finalist for the Heisman Trophy and several national prognosticators have the Cougars playing in a New Year’s Six game against either Oregon or Michigan.
Here’s a look at all the latest bowl projections from around the country:
ESPN’s Mark Schlabach isn’t the most popular man in Provo these days with his latest projection. After Schlabach and Kyle Bonagura had BYU facing Oklahoma State in the Cotton Bowl last week, Schlabach now has the Cougars facing Hawaii in the Idaho Potato Bowl. Meanwhile, Bonagura is still getting plenty of love from Cougar fans as he has BYU playing Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl.
Due to a late start and playing limited games, Oregon might not have enough to get into the College Football Playoff despite finishing undefeated. If BYU makes the NY6 and faces Oregon, it will be a Top 10 showdown between both storied programs. If the Cougars falter at all this season, the Potato Bowl will be waiting with open arms for the Cougars. If it happens, Cougars fans will have Déjà vu as they would be playing in the same bowl as they did in 2018, and against last year’s bowl opponent too.
Michigan opened the season with a dominating 49-24 victory over then-No. 21 Minnesota on the road. However, the Wolverines have only beaten Ohio State twice since 2001, so playing Michigan might not be possible if they have two losses at the end of the year. If the Wolverines finish the year with just one loss somehow, the chance to go up against a storied program like Michigan, in a big bowl game, would be a great opportunity for the Cougars.
CBS’ Jerry Palm has the Cougars playing Cincinnati in the Armed Forces Bowl. Palm’s projection has stayed the same for several weeks now despite both teams climbing into the Top 10 of the Coaches Poll. The last time BYU played the Armed Forces Bowl was back in 2011 when Riley Nelson threw a touchdown pass to Cody Hoffman with 11 seconds to go in the game to beat Tulsa 24-21.
Athlon Sports is fully on the BYU hype train as they have the Cougars facing Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl. Because of the shortened season in the Pac-12 conference, Oregon may not make the College Football Playoff even if they run the table. The Ducks, like BYU will need several teams in front of them to lose to have a shot. If BYU-Oregon do play each other in the Fiesta Bowl, the Cougars would be getting a premier opponent that would be looking to make a statement. The Cougars and Ducks have faced off six times, with BYU winning the latest matchup — a 38-8 win in the 2006 Las Vegas Bowl.
You could change name of this bowl game to the Independents as BYU and Liberty are just two of six total FBS independent teams. Both teams are 6-0 and Liberty is knocking on the door of the rankings as the Flames currently sit 27th in both polls. Liberty could be a top 20 opponent for the Cougars this year if they can get past Virginia Tech, NC State and No. 20 Coastal Carolina.
With a bunch of transfers from SEC schools and a former SEC head coach leading the way, this matchup would be better than the Potato Bowl. The Flames took the Cougars down to the wire last year (31-24), so if this matchup does take place, the Cougars would be looking to make a statement after last year’s close win. Liberty has some open dates towards the end of the season, so its possible that BYU could schedule Liberty anyways, which would then erase any chance of these two programs facing off in a bowl game.
While BYU makes a NY6 in this scenario, going up against a “Group of 5 team” isn’t exactly a reward for a Cougar team that had six “Power 5” programs (Utah, Michigan State, Minnesota, Arizona State, Stanford and Missouri) originally on the schedule. While Cincinnati would likely come in as a Top 10 team, it would feel like a slap in the face for both programs, just like it was when No. 4 TCU and No. 6 Boise State faced off in the 2010 Fiesta Bowl in what was dubbed the “mid-major championship.”
Stadium football insider Brett McMurphy has BYU taking on Nevada in the Potato Bowl. Obviously this would be a big disappointment for Cougar fans and players who have become the media darling this year. The Cougars have been given a lot of love, including some talk about a possible playoff chance, a NY6 berth and a team that has a quarterback in the running for the Heisman Trophy.